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Housing : June 2009
the hassle of hunting for them. The second is thatAllSafe itself claims the government rebates and discounts its invoices to customers accordingly. Sean makes the point that this eliminates the bureaucracy and formfilling that his customers would otherwise be involved in, generally speeding up the whole process. He acknowledges that this service to clients involves some cashflow delays forAllSafe, but says ‘when government is writing the cheques, why should we worry?’ Sean migrated from SouthAfrica in 1993, and spent two years in the marine industry before going into insulation. ‘I’ve been in this game for 14 years,’ he says. ‘We grew from what was the AlliedWoolmen’s Insulation Group, a loose collective of up to 18 members, which was really a buying group.We had a bit of buying power, and got better pricing from the big manufacturers.’ His interest in energy efficiency arose from his ‘consummate greenie’ credentials, he says. ‘People used to sarcastically call me a tree-hugger, but now that’s a term of approval. I was always concerned about the planet. I call myself a practical greenie. ‘I was beating the drum for insulation long before it became trendy.We settled on our trademark “Minimising your carbon footprint” years ago. ‘Given the savings over time, people can’t afford not to invest in [energy efficiency]’ ‘We focus on the roof – stopping heat getting out or in, improving ventilation, saving power with heatpumps, solar hot water and photovoltaics.We can also let in natural light with skylights without letting heat in.’ AllSafe currently has five operating franchisees, and plans to open another four in the near future in northern NSW and Queensland. Overall the company plans to grow to 52 franchised stores Australia-wide in the next two to three years. ‘We expect to employ up to 900 “green-collar workers” in three years time.’ Sean is not discouraged by suggestions that in the current economic climate and overall affordability problems, home buyers and builders will 42 be tempted to economise on energyefficiency measures. ‘What I say to them is that if you slightly reduce the size of the house, you can afford solar power, solar hot water, and better insulation. ‘I think these things are affordable with the rebates in play right now. In fact, given the savings over time, people can’t afford not to invest in these things.’ AllSafe’s market includes builders, owner-builders, homebuyers wanting to retrofit and commercial installations. In the short term, Sean says that AllSafe expansion will focus on new areas in NSW, for example, around Wollongong andAlbury-Wodonga. He estimates that a population of around 100,000 is needed for an area to be attractive for a new franchisee. He rules out areas with a high proportion of highrise development. While its headquarters are currently in Brisbane, Sean sees the possibility of an eventual move south, maybe to Sydney or even toMelbourne. That’s a decision, he says, that will be essentially demanddriven. Sean says that in selecting franchisees AllSafe has a preference for husbandand-wife teams, people with a building background, and of course business acumen. They also look for people with a long-term commitment to the business. ‘Obviously we don’t want people who will run the franchise for six months and then want to get out.’ Sean is an accredited HIA GreenSmart Professional. New franchisees will be helped to gain accreditation by both GreenSmart and theAssociation of Above: Natalie Pluta from CPA Australia (left) presents Sean and his wife Clare the Queensland Small Business Champion Award for 2008. Building SustainabilityAssessors to enable them to rate the energy efficiency of buildings. Sean’s optimism aboutAllSafe’s growth potential reflects his conviction that understanding of the need for energy efficiency is growing among both builders and home-buyers. ‘Five years ago I was banging my head to persuade people, but not now. Proactive builders are asking for it, asking us for advice, and sending clients to us.’ For more information onAllSafe’s products and services, or for franchise opportunities visit www.all-safe.com.au H Rebates to reduce your use With a variety of government rebates available, energy efficiency is now very affordable and an expectation for new houses. AllSafe offers the supply and installation of: • insulation • ventilation systems • skylights • solar and gas hot water systems • water saving devices, and • photovoltaic power systems For information on government rebates available, visit www.environment.gov.au/rebates/ index.html. HOUSING JUNE 2009